The Royal Canadian Air Force flies a large inventory of aircraft, many of which are new or completely modernized. These range from huge transport aircraft to helicopters to fighters to patrol aircraft and more. They are used to carry out a multitude of roles at home and abroad, in peace and in conflict, all in support of the RCAF’s mission of providing relevant, responsive and effective air power to meet the defence challenges of today and into the future.
Fighter aircraft are designed primarily to ensure control of essential airspace and deny opponents the use of that airspace. They are fast, light, manoeuverable fixed-wing aircraft capable of flying for long distances, deploying rapidly, reacting quickly, identifying targets and taking action, if required, against an air, sea or ground target. The alpha-numerical designation for fighter aircraft begins with CF (e.g., CF-188 Hornet).
Search and rescue (SAR) aircraft are used to support the “national search and rescue (SAR) objective [which] is to prevent loss of life and injury through search and rescue alerting, responding and aiding activities” (National Search and Rescue Manual, 1998). They may be fixed-wing or rotary wing aircraft and some of the aircraft used in SAR roles, such as the Griffon helicopter and H-model Hercules, may also be configured for use in other roles. As well, any RCAF aircraft may be used to support the SAR mission, if available and appropriate.
Trainer aircraft are used to train novice aircrew in their roles of operating various types of aircraft, including fighters, helicopters and multi-engine aircraft. Several of the training aircraft used by the Canadian Armed Forces actually belong to companies that are contracted to provide training. The Tutor aircraft, which is primarily used by the Snowbirds aerobatic team, is categorized as a trainer because it was the Canadian Armed Forces’ primary jet trainer until the year 2000. The alpha-numerical designation for trainers begins with CT